Friday, 29 November 2013

Winter sucks.

The change in the weather has made me realize that I definitely need to be here for a new set of lungs. Cold weather does not work well with my horrible lungs.

No matter how much I bundle up, every time I breathe in the cold, dry winter air, it is like being punched in the chest every time I step outside. Mind you, not every single day but on those brisk days where it is well below freezing (thankfully, being Nov, we have only had a few of those so far). If there is strong wind in my face, it gets even worse as I am always gasping for breath and have to try to resist the temptation to walk backwards the entire way to help me catch my breath. I have taken to getting off the bus a stop later so I can make the walk to the condo with the wind at my back so I can breathe a bit easier.

However, when I do get to my warm destination, my lungs start relaxing just in time to start coughing as the sudden temperature change causes the asthmatic part of my lungs to freak out and I have a minor coughing fit (much to the disapproval of everyone else on the bus).  I really need a regulated heat-bubble for traveling.

I find my increased intolerance to cold weather super frustrating because I use to really like winter and winter activities. I mean back when I didn't feel like my lungs were stopping every time I walked outside. I want to be able to go skiing and skating and build snowmen! Last year, I did manage to get out skiing on a few warm winter days but I have my doubts on that happening this year (also probably because any decent ski hill is outside of my '2 1/2 hour limit'). It's no fun to be stuck inside all the time when there is fresh snow wanting to be played in.

The point is that I really should be moving somewhere with less of a flux in the weather. Somewhere like Hawaii. I should see if the government will subsidize my medical care if I move there. I did get a massage today which helped relieved some of the cold-related tension that has started to build in my neck and shoulders. I think massages, the hot tub downstairs, and never leaving the apartment is going to be my only way to survive this winter until I get my transplant.
Our first snow of the year!

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

What do you mean we are out of chips?

Isaiah is off playing board games tonight so I was left to fend for myself for supper. Since we are all out of corn chips, I couldn't cook my reliable 'go to' meal of nachos ('cook' is a bit of a stretch when it comes to nachos...'assemble' would be more appropriate). I had to get a little creative to get the same result without having to go to the grocery store.

How to make nachos without chips:

Step 1: Hope you have another grain around the house. We, thankfully, still had some bread left from the 'day old' bags we buy from a bakery in the Kensington Market. Each bag contains a random assortment of their breads. I thought the best choice for tonight from the bag was the mutli-grain baguette and pretzel baguette (highly recommended as you can see by the fact that it was already almost gone). Cut the bread or baguette in small horizontal slices.

Step 2: Make some flavouring. Oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and chili pepper for me.
Step 3: Lavish mixture on baguette slices and bake until crunchy.

Step 4: Assemble dip. Sour cream (30% M.F. is most delicious), guacamole, salsa, cheese, yellow pepper.

Step 5: Enjoy! They turned out quite well and were a good substite to chips.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

George Strombo!!!

We went to a taping of the George Stroumboulopoulos today. It was pretty fun even though there was a bit of waiting around for stuff to happen. They taped some stuff for tonight's 11:30 pm show and also for Friday's 7pm show. Chris Hadfield made an appearance which is the main reason I wanted to go. He played a Christmas song that he wrote that will be airing during the Strombo Holiday Special. I won a t-shirt for properly identifying which TV show Rob Ford made an appearance on yesterday. Yay! All in all, a good afternoon!

We had to pretend it was 11:30pm.
All ready for Chris Hadfield!! (They obviously didn't allow pictures during the taping)
Yay new gym shirt! (It is way too big for me)

Monday, 25 November 2013

I need your plasma!

This morning I had a hematology consult. I got a call last week to tell me about the appointment and the man only said I had a hematology appointment today on the 2nd floor 'follow the signs'. Unfortunately, I didn't think to ask what unit it was in and just assumed that there was a hematology unit. Nope!

This morning, when I went to go 'follow the signs', there were no signs for 'hematology'. I asked at information and the women had no idea what I was talking about and sent me to the Benign Hematology Clinic (makes sense I guess since it has the word hematology in it). Those people also had no idea who I was and sent me to the 2nd floor. I recognized some other transplant people so I followed them and went to register only to be told that that was the colonoscopy unit and I was not on their list (huge sigh of relief). I was eventually lead to the right place when a nurse looked me up in the computer and directed me to the Apheresis Unit. I'm not sure how they just assumed  I would know that.

Of course an unexplained appointment meant that I assumed I had blood cancer. But no (I don't know why I always think cancer) turns out the doctor just needed to get my signature on a consent form for a plasma transfusion during transplant.

The actual point of the appointment was to tell me that because I have high levels of antibodies, my body will most likely start attacking new lungs (unless I happen to get a set of lungs with nothing that my body has an antibody for) before I can get started on the immunosuppressive meds. As a result, my body would reject the lungs in 48 hours and I would die. He was very blunt about the low chance of me finding a perfect match without doing the transfusion and if I passed up on one set of lungs, who is to say there would be a second pair for me, or what if I got an infection while waiting for the second pair (I felt it was a bit like 'agree to this or die' which I thought was pretty intense).

Since I am high risk for rejection because of my super high antibody count, what they do is put me on the Apheresis machine which takes my blood and centrifuges out my plasma (the super antibodies) and puts in new plasma (with fewer antibodies) and puts it back in my body. This will put me down to a 'normal' or even 'low' risk of rejection. They run my blood through the machine 4 (I think) times during the actual procedure and then once every day for the following 4 days.

The doctor said they have been doing this for 7 years and it works really well. They are one of two places in North America that does the procedure so I guess it is still fairly new but the benefits definitely outweigh the risks on this one. The risks are pretty standard; because it is a IV line (in my groin), there is the typical risk of infection or itchyness. The other risks are the ones from plasma transfusion: fever, fluid in lungs, HIV, Hep C, etc... The doctor said the risk of HIV and Hep C is less than 1 in 7 million or something crazy. He kept repeating 'there is almost no risk of getting HIV' so much that the more he said it, the more concerned I became (It's like when someone says there is nothing wrong so many times that you know something is wrong). But seriously, it's not worth worrying about.

In conclusion: I will most likely need a plasma transfusion during the operation so everyone start donating their plasma so there will be lots banked for me when the time comes!

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Friday Night Live!

Before my Friday experiences gets you too down (see previous 2 posts), I did have an enjoyable Friday night at the ROM for their Friday Night Live. We went to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit which opened that night and I now want all of the pictures on my wall. They also had 3D printing where I printed out a fortress I 'designed' from an Ipad (I really just clicked on the options I was not very elaborate). We also stayed for the band 'The wilderness of Manitoba' who were exactly what I needed at the end of a weird day.

I also ate a cricket.

Hello Mr. Toad.
My 3D creation
Cricket snack! Also, chocolate, craisins and pumpkin seeds. Fun fact: You should not eat crickets if you have a shellfish allergy (or you shouldn't eat shellfish if you have a cricket allergy)
Yes I did.

Friday's physio time was not the best.

I can't talk about the other people who are at the lung-transplant gym with me for confidentiality reasons so I will try to do this with as little detail as possible:

On Friday at physio, there was a person there who had a transplant several months ago and was returning for what may have been the first time since surgery. They were so small and had no energy when doing the exercises that it has absolutely terrified me that that is how I am going to be post-transplant. Mostly everyone else who is post-transplant at physio seems to be doing really well and never stop talking about how amazing they feel and how much their lives have improved. Yesterday, one person even tried running for the first time post-surgery and exclaimed how much harder it was than they thought it would be while maintaining how awesome it is to be able to run.

That I can handle because I can see myself post-surgery also trying to run while my body freaks out because it hasn't had that much exertion in years. However, seeing someone struggle to lift tiny weights while commenting that pre-surgery they were lifting significantly heavier weights, bummed me out even more than the 6-min walk test. I just keep thinking that could be me in a few months and I really really don't want that to happen.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Stupid 6-min walk test.

I repeated my 6-min walk test today at physiotherapy and I did worse than I did in October. Arggg!!

I was not expecting it at all seeing as the physiotherapist told me most people improve after 6 weeks and on Wednesday, increased my intensity on the treadmill as well as my weights (woohoo 6lb!). There is nothing more frustrating to me than working really hard and still getting worse. I know, it might have been a lot more worse if I wasn't exercising at all but it was still not the news I wanted to hear.

How the 6 minute walk test works is that I walk up and down a hall as fast as possible in 6 minutes while they measure my heart rate and oxygen levels. On Friday, although I walked roughly the same distance (a little less, probably due to the fact that instead of encouraging me to do 'just one more lap', she kept saying 'you know you can rest whenever you need to'...thanks for the morale boost...), my oxygen levels dropped faster than they had in October. That means that my lungs are crapping out even more than they were in October.

I feel like I'm letting myself down (even though that is completely irrational and the entire thing is out of my control). I realized a few years ago, probably as a result of growing up in the medical system, that I internalize medical failures and that I need to stop blaming myself. I don't know if other people feel the same but when the doctor praises me for something ridiculous and not in my control, like having stable blood sugars, it stands to reason that when my sugars do go wonky, it is something I've done. Instead of it being an inevitable part of having CF. So when I don't do well on an exercise test, it must be my fault for not pushing hard enough at the gym. It is somewhat easier to blame myself than to admit that I have little control over the situation and all I can do is try my best while my lungs fail.

I'm sure I'm overreacting to one test but when the physiotherapy student doing the test calls over the physiotherapist to monitor, it is never a good sign. They didn't increase my oxygen levels or decrease my intensity for my workouts so obviously they aren't too concerned but I am super bummed out about being worse than I was only 6 weeks ago. 

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Mental Health...?

One thing that I have found surprising about the pre-transplant program is the lack of discussion around mental health. When I had my pre-listed appointment in July with the social worker, she talked so much about the psychologists that I thought I would have seen one by this point in the process.

Not that I feel like I need to see a psychologist right now but I think it would be nice to be checked on once in awhile. I'm sure I could make an appointment with the social worker who would refer me on if she felt it was necessary.  I just thought there would be a lot more (as in some) discussion about how to stay sane while on the transplant list.

Maybe in the support groups, they discuss the importance of mental health but since I can't go to those, I don't really know. I know that on Wednesday they talked about palliative care as the physiotherapist was encouraging everyone to go to the talk. I was told that I can get drugs from the palliative care doctor if I need anything for sleeping and that often the non-CF patients get morphine from them to help control their cough (People with CF are not suppose to suppress their cough as coughing helps get up all the crap in the lungs). I'm sure the palliative care doctors would mention mental health, especially for caregivers, as it is so important in avoiding caregiver burnout.

I feel like with everyone waiting on the list, besides trying to be in the best possible health, mental health should also be a top priority as the wait is a lot harder on the head than anything else. Surely we have all gotten past any stigma surrounding mental healthy, so why isn't anyone talking about it? Where are the discussions?

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Doctor appointments

I had a doctor appointment yesterday with the CF team. It was very boring and took 4 1/2 hours. Nothing has changed since I saw them 4 weeks ago and they want to see me again in 3 weeks. These monthly appointments are going to get old very quickly. They want to see me so frequently because 1) I am new to that hospital and 2) I am listed so they want to catch any problem asap so I can stay in the best possible health. The doctor said that sometimes people have weekly appointments when they are listed to make sure that the person stays stable. At least I'm not there yet! A 4 hour appointment every week sounds really hard on the head (and the bum...their chairs are not very comfortable). I guess I will get a lot of reading done if it comes to that...but fingers crossed for a transplant before I get to that point.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013


I've noticed recently that my panic attack moments seem to have gone away. Yay! Sure, I still have moments where I semi-freak out about why I am in Toronto and what I am doing, but the moments where I break down crying have become few and far between. 

I think it is because I am actually here in Toronto on the transplant list. While I was still in Springhill, I would freak out that I didn't want to move or that I didn't want anything to change. I think that I was also a lot more stressed about moving than I realized. So now that I'm here and all settled in, I have less to be stressed about...?

Okay, well maybe not but still, it feels good to be able to take a shower without becoming a bubbling mess.

Sunday, 17 November 2013


The Christmas Parade happened today! Anddd I totally stayed home and did laundry instead. It was suppose to rain and standing out in the rain for hours in a crowd sounded like a recipe for pneumonia to me. I gave strict instructions to Isaiah to bring me back some candy from the parade as decided to go anyway. He reports that it was a typical parade with marching bands and floats. However, there was no candy involved which is shocking. Even Springhill had candy! Boo Toronto parades! Who cares about fancy floats if you don't make children (and others...) run at you for some crushed candy canes. Springhill 1, Toronto 0.

Turns out I totally could have gone as it didn't rain and ended up being pretty warm outside. Meh. I am content with the fact that I created this delicious gingerbread latte.

I cannot make fancy designs in the foam.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Where are you McMicheal Art Museum?

Today, we went on a road trip to find the McMicheal Canadian Art Collection. According to Google, it was suppose to take 35 minutes so I figured we would get there in 45 minutes, no problem. I put the location in my phone GPS app which has worked surprisingly well for me having no data plan. I grabbed my portable oxygen tank and a water bottle and we set off!

The traffic was moving pretty well so we made excellent time. The GPS notified us that we had 'arrived at our destination' and everything. Except there was no museum. There was a school, a bunch of trees, and a strip mall but no museum. I kept driving thinking that maybe the App had the place off by a few meters or so but nope, nothing. That was when I realized that I should have triple checked that the GPS app actually had the right address. I did a quick glace to compare it to the location on Google but apparently it was too quick. That was also when we realized we had taken our actual paper-doesn't-require-3G-to-work-map out of the car.

So I did what I always do when I'm stranded and need information from the Internet, I called my sister. Except she didn't answer her phone so I then called my parents. We couldn't really tell them where we were other than 'on Islington Rd. somewhere in Vaughan', so all they could do was give us the street number, address, and postal code of the museum. We had the right street name, so where was the museum? We typed the postal code in the GPS and that gave us directions to a location 15 minutes away.

We figured we had no other good option and proceeded to follow those directions which led us past fields and farms into the middle of an industrial park. I knew we were going astray as soon as we left the main road onto some industrial road but figured we should give it a shot. Unsurprisingly, the art museum was not in the middle of the warehouses.

Attempt number 3 meant trying the street intersection in the GPS. It was of course 10 minutes away but that was better than the other side of the city. As soon as we pulled onto 'Islington St.' once again, I knew that we were on the right track. After driving through Kleinburg (which looked adorable and pricy), there was the museum! Hurray!

Lesson of the day: Don't trust the GPS! Turns out we were on the right street (Islington Rd is super long) but just had no idea how far up we were suppose to be. We are going to get a good road map of Ontario asap.

The museum was good, just the right size for me to get through before getting tired. There were only three rooms for the 'Group of 7' art which was surprising seeing as I thought it was their museum. The other stuff was pretty cool though. One of the rooms had paintings where the artists 're-imagined the works of Tom Thompson' which I have interpreted to mean reconstructing the painting using a lot of paint to give it a '3D' effect and add in some people in the background. Except the people had globs of paint as faces which was a bit unnerving. A girl kept walking around screaming 'zombie!' when she saw one which was pretty much my reaction too except without the screaming. If I hadn't been told to stop taking pictures, I would have taken a picture.

These were depressing dioramas in floating balls about how we all hide our lives from everyone else. In the next room it was all about the rich people live luxuriously while the rest of the world lives in poverty. The third room was about all the horrible things the Natives went through with residential schools. Sigh.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Thank you ❤

I know I've said it before but thank you everyone for your overwhelming amount of support. Terrifying amounts might more accurately describe it. You are all crazily generous and amazing in every way. It really does help to know that we have so many supportive people who are just a phone call or email away if we need anything. All the support makes the waiting stress a little bit easier. I have no idea what is going to happen in the future, I have no idea what is going to happen tomorrow, but it is such a relief to know that no matter what happens, I have so many people sending positive vibes my way.

Thank you all you awesome people!

Thursday, 14 November 2013

Lung transplants and life support.

I got a really random call from my Halifax CF doctor last week while I was eating breakfast. She called to tell me that that if I get a bad infection and need to be put on an artificial respirator then I am still eligible for a transplant. Apparently the transplant coordinator was suppose to review that with me, realized she forgot, and then called my Halifax CF doctor to call me to talk to me about it. The doctor told me they just had to have verbal confirmation from me that I agreed to still go ahead with surgery if I was on life support.

I had assumed that they just did the transplant anyway but I guess it makes sense that they should actually talk to me about it. I am not overly fond of the idea of being on life support for an extended amount of time but if I was just one it for my lungs and everything else was still working fine, I guess it would be ok for a little bit. I did ask the dr about the recovery prognosis for having the surgery from being on life support vs regular. She said that while it does mean having a longer recovery, since I am young, I have a good chance that I would have a normal recovery. She didn't give me any numbers but she seemed to indicate that if I was 50 or 60 than I would have to really weight the odds as those patients tend to have a painful recovery with little chance of returning to their previous lives but since I am young that I should be fine.

So the moral of the story was not to panic if I get super sick and need to be put into a coma as I can still have the surgery. She stressed that I would be at the top of the list in that circumstance so I guess that is the one benefit if that situation does arise. It is all hypothetical right now but I suppose it is important to work out the 'what ifs' for all the possible outcomes. 

Tuesday, 12 November 2013


My parents were here this past weekend as dad had a volunteer conference and mom wanted to visit. We had a busy weekend doing touristy things around Toronto while they compared everything to how it was when they lived here in the 70s. I carted my oxygen all around the ROM and the zoo which meant my shoulders were sore on Sunday but it was worth it for the pandas. It was great to see some family. It feels like I've been here longer than a month and half sometimes.
Panda!! They really are adorable. The other one was sleeping in a corner.
This sloth was adorable, it was motoring around (as much as sloths can) trying to escape the little monkeys that kept jumping on it.
Not at the zoo but at the old Maple Leaf Gardens for the annual 'Hockey Hall of Fame old timer's' game.
I have no idea which team won.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Remembrance Day.

I am so perplexed why everything is open here today.  I thought Harper made Remembrance Day a federal holiday? Apparently Ontario didn't get the message. It is such a change from the Maritimes where everything is closed today.  I felt a little weird about walking past the cenotaph ceremony happening at U of T to go to physio. However, at 11 everyone shut off the machines and had a moment of silence which made me feel a bit better.

Thank you to everyone who fought for our country in the fact of great injustice. Lest we forget.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

Maybe the helmet-less cyclists in Toronto aren't as dumb as I thought.

It has come to my attention that perhaps everyone in Toronto is super ahead of the times and have acquired the latest technology in helmets and I was wrong to be so judgmental.

Introducing: the 'invisible' helmet. It is a stylish collar that turns into an airbag that wraps over your head upon impact. It complies with all of the EU regulations for helmets, you don't get helmet hair, and it provides 3x the shock absorption of a regular helmet! That's quite a significant improvement. 

This blows my mind and I really want to try one except that they are 400 Euros and I would probably forget to shut it off after cycling, drop it on the floor and have it inflate. Sigh. I guess I'll have to deal with helmet hair and a sweaty head for now (although not right now as I have become wimpy about cycling in the cold...I mean next summer). Plus I think you would still get a 'no helmet' ticket in the Maritimes with one of these on. 

The Swedes invent the coolest stuff.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Happy 30th Anniversary Lung Transplants!

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the first successful lung transplant!

In 1983, Toronto General Hospital had its first long-term single lung transplant.  It was the 45th transplant attempt at the hospital and the first to be a real success as the man (known forever as 'patient 45') lived for 6 years post-transplant compared to the 44 previous counterparts who only lived for than a few days or weeks.

I am beyond thankful that I live at a time and place where lung transplants are an actual possibility. There have been so many advances in medicine and science in the last 30 years that it is incredible the difference in the level of care one receives today compared to 30 years ago. Not even just for transplants, care has improved for people with CF or diabetes or heart conditions or cancer or pretty much everything.

Thirty years ago, lung transplants were still an experiment that were tried on a few people who were gutsy enough to try a breakthrough procedure. It is hard to say whether or not I would have been able to commit to that kind of procedure 30 years ago. I like having stats with the odds to be in my favor too much to imagine being confident in trying something completely new. At the same time, if I was facing my impending death and had no other choice, I might go for it. If someone offered me a chance to 3D print myself new lungs today, I would be all over that in a heartbeat.

It makes me wonder what incredible technology and medicine they will have 30 years from now. Obviously they should have perfected 3D organ printing that they will be able to print new organs (They have successfully printed a kidney). But will gene therapy be advanced to the point where it can eliminate the symptoms of CF? Will people with CF even need lung transplants anymore? Or will they have some new technology that I can't even fathom?

I have moments where I wish that science could hurry up and make their discoveries faster so I can take advantage of them while I have the chance. Then I feel bad for having a pity part because I'm sure the 44 people before 'patient 45' felt the same way or much worse. I can't complain when the first month post-transplant survival rate has gone from 50% in the 90's to 95% today. That is pretty damn good when you consider how hard it is to transplant lungs. We hear about transplants so much now that we barely think about how amazing it is that we have the capability to take the incredibly fragile delicate lungs out of one person and put them in the body of a second person and have that person live for many years afterwards. Science is awesome.

So Happy 30th Anniversary lung transplants!

Here is the CBC article about Patient 45.
Read more about the history of the lung transplant

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Waiting Game: 1 Month.

I have been on the transplant list for 1 month today. I didn't think I was going to be counting the days but seeing as it is such a big part of my life, it is hard not to notice how much time has passed.

Here is a summation what is has been like on the transplant list in the last month:

 - I have started wearing my oxygen when I go places. My oxygen saturation levels are still ok when I'm sitting around the house so I'm not on it 24/7 but if I am doing anything active (like walking around) than I should be wearing it. I've actually had a few people give me or offer to give me their seat on the bus which was excellent. What was not excellent was when some guy started smoking beside me while I was waiting for the bus as I have a (I feel rational) fear of oxygen + fire.

- While I realistically don't expect the call to happen for at least another few months, I am pretty obsessive about having my phone within reach at all times because you just never know. I realize this is partly irrational as the person making the call will also call Isaiah's phone and the pager but despite rationally knowing that, I still can't shake my panic every time I misplace my phone (which happens more than one would think). 

- The first few nights I was listed, I woke up panicked every few hours that I had missed the call and had to check my phone before I could get back to sleep. I rarely do that anymore but I have had a few dreams about missing the call so obviously my subconscious is still worried.

- I still have a small adrenaline rush every time I get a call from a blocked or unknown number. I'm not sure if that will ever stop. The worse part is when they don't introduce themselves right away and have no idea that I am mildly freaking out on my end. The whole 'Hello?' 'Hello, is this Allison?', 'Yes', 'Hi Allison, how are you doing today?', 'Fine!...WHAT DO YOU WANT? ARE GIVING ME NEW LUNGS!?' conversation is  frustrating every single time. They are always calling about something stupid too. Like a new credit card or bank loan they want to give me. 

- Physiotherapy is going well, I am still going 3x/week. My intensity has been increased for cardio and I have been given bigger weights (woohoo 5 lb!). I appreciate that they are not letting me wimp out. The frustrating part about exercising is that my oxygen levels tend to drop before my body gets tired. I get super excited when I sweat (which sounds incredibly lame) because it means that my body has gotten tired before my lungs which is excellent as my lungs are pretty horrible.

- I met the transplant care doctor last week at my check-up appointment for the first time. I have appointments with the transplant team roughly every 3 months and with the CF team roughly every 6 weeks. Each appointment has me do a lung function test, weight-in, and blood pressure check. While I appreciate that they are super thorough, the appointments have been super repetitive and boring. Although that is probably a good thing as exciting appointments tend not to be good news.

- Every time I hear about someone who died in hospital or who was taken off life support, I now wonder who, if anyone, has gotten their organs. Then I feel like a horrible person for that being my first thought but I can't seem to help myself.

- While it sucks waiting for an unknown amount of time for a transplant, I am still doing and planning lots for the upcoming months (while knowing it could all be cancelled if I get the call). I'm trying to make the best of my situation by going to see as much as possible before I either a) get too sick to go or b) have the surgery and am stuck in the hospital. We are off to the zoo this weekend!

So pretty much, I'm doing fine and Toronto is treating me well while keeping me entertained (thank you Rob Ford). The weather has been fantastic so I am choosing to remain in denial that it will eventually get cold. All in all, for being stuck in Toronto, the last month has been pretty good.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Good bye Joey

My sister had to put down her dog today. He was very old and lived a very happy life with her and the family but he will still be missed. I dog-sat him in March when she was on vacation and enjoyed taking him on small walks and cuddling with him while watching TV. I also made some art with him which was a mild disaster but amusing for us all, I'm sure he was especially impressed when I showered him off.  (You can read more about it here)

Even though he was old, he still greeted us at the door with a wag of the tail and a little run in circles.He loved going on hikes and was always determined that he was going to keep up with the other dogs. and when he was younger, loved following the horses through the fields whenever we went horseback riding. He would find the best spot to sleep in front of the fire at my parents and every Christmas he would get buried in wrapping paper as he refused to leave his spot.  Until he got his pig ear, then he would disappear behind a chair and growl to himself until it was gone. He was also a bed hog and would worm his way up to the pillow through the night subsequently kicking your face until you gave him more space. He may have been my sister's dog but we all loved him as our own.

We will miss you Joey.

Joey putting up with my nonsense.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Cooking: Jalapeno Poppers

As I have blogged very little about food for a blog that has 'Cooking' in the name, I thought I should stop slacking and have another food-themed post. Coincidentally, I actually made something interesting for supper tonight.  Jalapeno Poppers! I made a batch last weekend when friends came over for supper and had to use up the jalapenos tonight before they went bad.

Step 1: Make delicious drink for energy
Step 2: Cut and seed jalapenos (This takes the most time)
Step 3: Make bread crumbs. I find the bread makes finer crumbs if toasted first. However, burning the bread is not a good method but I did discover that our smoke detector works. I was just testing it...

Mix together cream cheese, cheddar cheese, cumin, and cayenne pepper. Stuff into the jalapenos halves.

Prepare bowls for batter and batter away! Bowl 1: flour, salt, pepper, garlic. Bowl 2: egg. Bowl 3: bread crumbs, paprika.
Bake for 30 minutes and enjoy! Super delicious. This batch was much less-hot than last weekend. Last weekend almost every single one was crazy spicy. Is it because the peppers were slightly bigger? Or the peppers just wanted to burn people's throats last weekend? I have no idea.

Friday, 1 November 2013

A musing about bucket lists, also Happy November!

Last night I listed to a documentary podcast about bucket lists. It was about this women who had this crazy untreatable cancer but who was currently in remission so she was feeling well enough to travel around and do all the things on her bucket list. It was super depressing and I only made it through half of it before dissolving into tears and switching to something a bit less death-related. (I really need to start doing a better job of weeding out the 'will in no way help with sleep' podcasts).

However, it did get me thinking about bucket lists and their purpose in people's lives and if it is really a good thing. I am not sure what I think about bucket lists. The pro-side would be that having a list of activities to accomplish would be helpful for some people to help them create goals in life and might motivate people to get off the couch and start making memories. It would give someone something to plan around or an excuse to take a trip that they have always wanted to take 'before it's too late'.

My concern would be that if a person made a bucket list and then became more ill ( it seems like people only make them when they get a terminal disease or realize they are reaching the end of their life expectancy) and weren't able to physically or financially complete the list , would they feel like they have let themselves down or feel regretful by not finishing the list? I feel like it could add extra stress or guilt to someone's death that no one needs. I hate unfinished lists so having a physical list of stuff I should have done before I died would stress me out. But I would be dead so maybe that is a moot point.

The other problem I have is what happens when you finish the list? Do you then stop trying new experiences and say that you have finished everything you can? I don't really like that either because no one should ever be finished learning or having new experiences.

Part of my problem is that I  am partially perplexed by the notion of bucket lists because a) mine would be a mile long and I would have to be either incredibly rich or live a very long life to check everything off the list and b) making a bucket list seems a little redundant. I feel like I have taken many of the opportunities that arisen in my life (not all but many) that I don't know how a list of ideas would have helped.

Maybe it is all about just knowing the importance of living knowing that no one is guaranteed that they will have 'next year' to take that crazy trip or jump out of the plane or try the new restaurant or read that book or learn an instrument or whatever. Although, if everyone lived according to that philosophy, no one would have a savings account or try to better their lives for the future. So maybe that is not a good life philosophy.

Hmmm, I guess the middle ground is that it is good to have goals in life and things you want to achieve which is where a bucket list would help but at the same time, if you die before getting the chance to complete everything you want, that doesn't mean you have failed.

I thought writing out my mixed feelings about bucket lists would help me come to some sort of conclusion but that has proven to not be the case. Maybe that is what I get for not listening to the second part of the podcast. Anyone else have any thoughts about bucket lists?